Reducing drug development costs

An animation

Explaining our work in a way that is accessible to a wide audience is often challenging. Here we summarise some of our approaches to drug target prioritization in a short animation.
drug targets

Tom Gaunt


November 8, 2020


This short animation explains how we use Mendelian randomization and colocalization to help prioritise drug targets. One of our aims in both  programme 4 of the MRC IEU and the Integrative Cancer Epidemiology Programme is to integrate such prioritizations with other data to help inform drug development.


About the animation

The animation is based on recent work by Dr Jie (Chris) Zheng, Vice-Chancellors Fellow based in programme 4 of the MRC IEU, who recently published an innovative Mendelian randomization and colocalization study of plasma protein levels in Nature Genetics, that demonstrated how genetic data can be used to support drug target prioritisation by identifying the causal effects of proteins on diseases.

Using a set of genetic epidemiology approaches, including Mendelian randomization and genetic colocalization, we built a causal network of 1002 plasma proteins on 225 human diseases. In doing so, we identified 111 putatively causal effects of 65 proteins on 52 diseases, covering a wide range of disease areas. The results of this study are accessible via EpiGraphDB.